At a news conference at about 4pm today, Chief Dan Flynn of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department announced that Ron Young, 23, of Savannah has been arrested in connection with several rapes in the Coastal Empire and Low Country.
"The charges in this case are the result of an extensive investigation spanning a series of brutal rapes throughout Chatham, Bryan, Beaufort, and Colleton Counties," Chief Flynn said.
Police have been investigating a series of rapes for almost a year. They don't know the total number to which the suspect is linked at this point.
Young was charged today with one count of rape, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of aggravated sexual battery stemming from two rapes in the Savannah area. Charges are also being brought in a Richmond Hill case.
The first rape happened on June 9, 2004 on Coffee Bluff Road, the second August 31 on Magnolia Avenue, and the third on September 18 in Richmond Hill at Plantation Apartments.
Police say they are certain they have their man. "Ronald Young is off the streets of Savannah-Chatham County," said Capt. Bob Merriman of SCMPD. "So he's not going to be out there, a threat to any of the citizens of this community, especially the females of this community."
"We all have wives, mothers and daughters, and somebody like this is certainly not anyone that we want on the street here in the Chatham County area," added Chief James Melvin of Port Wentworth PD.
Young is currently in the Chatham County jail also facing charges in a sexual assault of a Colleton County, South Carolina, woman. Police in Walterboro issued a statewide lookout last Tuesday while investigating a sexual assault. They were asking police all over South Carolina to look for a blue Dodge Intrepid.
Around 4am Wednesday morning, July 6, a Hardeeville police officer thought he spotted that car. He was able to get word across the border to Port Wentworth, where they pulled him over and they got the big break they'd been looking for.
"You've got to picture this, it was in the dark on I-95," said Chief Flynn. "He saw a vehicle fitting the general description going the other direction. He wasn't able to get over, but he in turn radioed that information across the state line."
Police had been advising the public the suspect drove a white Intrepid. Young was a arrested while driving a blue Intrepid, though the vehicle was white at the time of registration. Police confirmed it was the same car they'd been looking for, but declined to comment on the difference in color.
Similarity between Young and a sketch of the serial rape suspect is part of what led to his arrest.
"We are ecstatic with this important break in a series of cases that have ripped our community for almost a year now," said Chief Flynn. "This is a major break in that and we're feeling happy about that and we're proud of the good law enforcement work and we're proud that our community is safer today."
Word of Young's arrest spread quickly. It is quite a relief for many, but none more so than the women who fell victim to what savannah police are calling "brutal rapes."
During today's news conference, several local police agencies from the Coastal Empire and Low Country were present along with the Rape Crisis Center of Savannah.
Missi Blakey from the Rape Crisis Center says to be sexually attacked is a life-altering ordeal for victims. She hopes today's arrest will make that a little easier for the women police say Young attacked.
"We want those who decide to sexually assault others to be arrested," she said. "It's a good thing for victims. It gives them control back in their lives."
More charges are expected as the investigation continues.